Channel is a voluntary, confidential programme which safeguards people identified as vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism. It is a multi-agency process, involving partners from the local authority, the police, education, health providers and others.
Referring possible cases of early-stage radicalisation is similar to safeguarding processes designed to protect people from gang activity, drugs, and physical or sexual abuse. Many types of support are available as part of the Channel programme, addressing educational, vocational, mental health and other vulnerabilities.
The Channel programme is:
- A support programme – not a criminal sanction and it will not affect a person’s criminal record
A referral can come from anyone who is concerned about a person they know who may be at risk of radicalisation, whether a family member, friend, school leader, colleague or from a wide range of partners. Channel addresses all forms of terrorism, including Islamist, far-right and others.
When someone makes a referral, lots of agencies work together to offer support where they consider it necessary and proportionate to do so. This involves a number of steps:
1. The local authority and the police carefully assess all referrals to see if they are suitable for Channel or whether a different type of support is more appropriate, such as mental health support.
2. If suitable, the referral is discussed with all relevant partners at a meeting called a Channel panel to decide if an intervention is necessary. The individual who has been referred to Prevent is informed and must give their consent (or via a parent or guardian if they are children) before an intervention can take place.
3. If Channel intervention is required, the panel works with local partners to develop an appropriate tailored support package.
4. The support package is monitored closely and reviewed regularly by the Channel panel.
The type of support available is wide-ranging, and can include help with education or career advice, dealing with mental or emotional health issues, drug or alcohol abuse, and theological or ideological mentoring from a Channel intervention provider (a specialist mentor).